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“Haters Are Going To Hate.”

This past Tuesday, Palm Bay resident David Kearns decided to stop in at the Brevard County Commission and say a few words.

During the public comment period at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, Kearns quoted from a letter that was a subject of a July 3 FLORIDA TODAY story that was partly related to David Isnardi.

More: Anderson named Palm Bay acting deputy city manager, as Isnardi seeks his job back

More: Palm Bay’s deputy city manager David Isnardi resigns

David Isnardi resigned from his position as Palm Bay deputy city manager last September in the midst of an ongoing federal and state probe of the city.

The June 28 letter โ€” from David Isnardi’s attorney, John Murphy, to Palm Bay City Manager Gregg Lynk and Palm Bay Mayor William Capote โ€” said that Isnardi “is interested in being reinstated to his former position” as deputy city manager.

When he announced his resignation, Isnardi said he wanted to move on, and remove any taint from an FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into activities at Palm Bay that could jeopardize his wife’s political career. Kristine Isnardi was elected as a Brevard County commissioner in 2016.

Lynk has named Andy Anderson, Palm Bay’s economic development and external affairs director, as acting deputy city manager.

But Murphy’s letter says giving David Isnardi back his former position is “an ideal way to resolve this situation without litigation.”

That didn’t sit well with Kearns, and he made his views known to county commissioners.

We have covered the Isnardi letter previously, and we don’t see any benefit from discussing it again at this time.

What we do want to discuss is Kearns’ actions and the response from the County Commission.

Frankly, we cannot fathom what Kearns was thinking when he went to the County Commission to discuss a City of Palm Bay issue.

“It can be argued he is trying to use his relationship with his spouse to unduly press an advantage against other applicants with the city of Palm Bay,” Kearns said. “The citizens of Palm Bay have a right to good government, untainted by scandal.”

There is no evidence that Commissioner Isnardi is using any influence on the City of Palm Bay in this matter. If Kearns wants to “argue” that there is undue pressure, he should first offer the proof of that pressure. Otherwise, Kearns is simply slinging mud which doesn’t help anyone.

Besides, what does Kearns want the Brevard County Commission to do? Censure Commissioner Isnardi on the spot? Without any evidence?

That wasn’t going to happen and it shouldn’t happen.

However, by going up to see the Brevard County Commission, it appears that Kearns wanted the Commission to step in and do something about Palm Bay. That would be disastrous on so many levels much less being illegal.

Trying to drag the County Commission into Palm Bay politics is simply not a good idea.

If anything, Kearns’ plan backfired and backfired badly.

The first evidence of this is that instead of dealing with Kearns’ comments, the headline of the article reads:

Fellow county commissioner jumps to Isnardi’s defense after comments by Palm Bay resident

In fact, the first six paragraphs of the article – including the lede – is how County Commission Chair Rita Pritchett jumped to the defense of Commissioner Isnardi. Isnardi’s own comments, including talking about how hard it is being a Commissioner because of the attacks and “abuse,” were quoted before Kearns’ comments.

Brevard County Commission Chair Rita Pritchett jumped to Vice Chair Kristine Isnardi’s defense on Tuesday, after a Palm Bay resident raised concerns about Isnardi and her husband, former Palm Bay Deputy City Manager David Isnardi.

“I have been serving with Commissioner Isnardi for a while, and I have never seen anything from her except very honorable actions,” Pritchett said. “We don’t always agree on everything, but I have no reason to misjudge her integrity up here.”

Isnardi, meanwhile, had a response of her own to the comments leveled against her Tuesday by Palm Bay resident David Kearns โ€” as well as to other critics.

“Haters are going to hate,” Isnardi said, as part of her response.

“Sometimes, it’s not easy, as an elected official, putting up with the constant barraging and the crappy newspaper articles and the half-truths that people say about you and your family when you’re in public office,” but that’s not why elected officials service the public, Isnardi said.

“We do it because our hearts are in it and because we love what we do,” Isnardi said. “And if anybody wants to get up here and say anything, county-related or not, you know, it’s your right. However, you know, the truth matters. And, oftentimes, it comes out. And no matter how many times you’re attacked and no matter how many bad things people tend to say about you, it’s an election season, and haters are going to hate, for lack of a better professional thing to say. And that’s just part of the territory.”

In essence, the article as well as Commissioner Pritchett and Isnardi’s comments made Commissioner Isnardi look like the victim in all of this – even before Kearns’ comments are quoted.

As far as bringing any alleged corruption or “undue influence” to the attention of the Commission, the exact opposite happened. The Commission basically said “we don’t believe you.”

A “bunker mentality” took over the members of the County Commission. It even got to the point where Commissioner Tobia and Commissioner Pritchett interrupted Kearns:

Pritchett and Commissioner John Tobia both stopped Kearns to question whether his comments pertained to county business.

Once again the Commission showed its lack of commitment to it own rules and freedom of speech.

Tobia is not supposed to interrupt any speaker. He may request a point of order to the Chair (in this case Pritchett) but in reality once Tobia started to address Kearns directly, he was out of order and acting contrary to Roberts’ Rule of Order.

Pritchett as the chair person of the meeting may interrupt in limited circumstances and open public comments is not one of those circumstances. Court after court after court has ruled that the time of public comment is for whatever subject the person wishes to be heard on. Furthermore, while Tobia, Pritchett and even County Attorney Eden Bentley wanted to get Kearns to either keep silent or speak on “county business,” that’s not the law. Once again, from the Florida Today article:

Brevard County Attorney Eden Bentley then advised Kearns that “you have three minutes of public comment. It should be directed to county business as quickly as possible.”

However, notice that Bentley’s comments indicate that public comments “should be directed to county business,” not “must be directed to county business.”

Even “should” may be a bit strong as the agenda for the meeting (and all County Commission regular meetings) has this note on the first page:

THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS REQUESTS THAT SPEAKERS APPEARING UNDER THE PUBLIC COMMENT SECTION OF THE AGENDA LIMIT THEIR COMMENTS AND/OR PRESENTATIONS TO MATTERS UNDER THE BOARD’S JURISDICTION. (emphasis ours)

To put it bluntly, the Commission can “request” all they want until the cows come home and nothing can be done.

It is not as if this Commission and in particular Commissioner Isnardi have demonstrated a commitment to free political speech. We covered the infamous “Civility Ordinance” here and here. Commissioner Isnardi has her own issue with speech that we covered here and here.

We simply wish that the Commission would follow their own rules, policies and procedures and allow people to speak in an exercise of their First Amendment rights under the US and Florida Constitution.

We don’t think that is too much to ask for.

So what is the bottom line?

In our opinion Kearns’ foray up to the County Commission was ill advised and without any proof of his accusations or a proposed resolution. The Commission’s hunkering down and defending one of their own was predictable.

On the other side of the coin, while the Commission has the right to defend a fellow Commissioner in their statements, they do not have the right to deny people their rights of free speech and they sure as heck don’t have the right to basically say “we are the Commission! Our rules don’t apply to us!”

In other words, there is plenty of ill-conceived actions and stupidity to go around on this one.



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